Female Marginalisation Embodied in The Color Purple and The Yellow Wallpaper Patrick J P Harris

Female marginalisation is a significant style in The Color Purple, with Celie’s emancipation from repressive male patriarchy being the conclusion of the plot. When going over the method narrative technique and viewpoint are utilized within the unique to attend to these themes, it works to make comparisons and contrasts with a various text. Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story The Yellow Wallpaper was composed practically a century before The Color Purple however shares similar styles of female repression by guys, the major difference being that whilst Celie overcomes her restrainers, the storyteller in The Yellow Wallpaper is overwhelmed by them. Both authors tried to reveal this marginalisation through the kind and style of the story; not simply through the development of the plot.

When looking at narrative method in The Color Purple, we are instantly drawn to the reality that it is written in epistolary kind. Books being comprised of a series of letters has actually traditionally been a popular design with ladies authors, having actually been used by some of our earliest females authors consisting of Aphra Behn and Mary Shelley. It uses a female author the opportunity to reveal the ideas and actions of her characters without the medium of an omniscient narrator. This is a really important thing when discussing female marginalisation, as the anticipated narrative voice of the omniscient narrator (a minimum of previously and throughout the 19th century, if not today) would have been anticipated to represent the dominating masculine voice of society. By utilizing the epistolic approach of novel writing, the female author has the ability to freely decline the ‘objective’ male voice of an omniscient narrator, in favour of the subjective voices of the characters. However the text is still thought about mainstream and appropriate since it does not honestly reject accepted social mores by overturning the objective manly narrator, or by claiming the supremacy of the female narrative voice. Readers anticipating the familiar manly narrative do not reject a female narrative when in epistolic form since it works within the expected position of ladies in society, as especially conscious the personal and familiar.

But one might say that in The Color Purple this convention is utilized paradoxically. Walker uses the form typically thought of as best fit to female authors and controls it in order to portray a character that breaks her bonds to violent men. Celie starts her letters as an address to a manly God (although not particularly mentioned, one assumes the patriarchal scriptural god), which shows her total dependence on, and belief in, the superiority of men. The continuation of such a view appears throughout the beginning and middle of the unique with her rejection to call her partner Albert, rather describing him as ‘Mr ______’. Its just after the arrival of Shug Avery and then the discovery of Nettie’s letters, that Celie begins to describe her husband as Albert; this occurs as she changes the object of her letters from the daddy figure of God to her sister, representing a growing awareness of her part within, and solidarity to, the womanly.

Among the most successful methods which The Yellow Wallpaper accomplishes a real understanding of female marginalisation in late nineteenth century New England is through its usage of stream-of-consciousness narrative. It isn’t through direct omniscient discovery of desire that we learn of her repression, but through the presentation of her mindful through the medium of her reasoning. These thoughts are still really limiting and only mention the male domination that she is being put under; her thoughts remaining in line with what would be anticipated of her outside speech: ‘I get so unreasonably angry with John in some cases. I make sure I never utilized to be so delicate. I think it is due to this worried condition.’ It is possible that Gilman utilized the stream-of-consciousness technique in this method in order to reveal that the reason why the narrator has actually absolutely broken down by the end of the story is that even in their minds numerous women have no freedom of thought or expression, but are automatically based on a male orientated and dominant view of themselves.

The Color Purple arrives at the opposite conclusion. This is since a completely emancipated (open to argument obviously, however in comparison to Gilman there is no doubt Walker can be called emancipated) author gives her character Celie far more flexibility of thought than might have held true for a genuine person in Celie’s position, as such a person’s ideas would most likely be much more in accord with those of their social superiors. If Celie did not have this flexibility of idea (and expression through her letters) then she might never have actually slowly released herself from dependence on men in a healthy way (rather than the freedom born of insanity that Gilman’s narrator discovers). It could be possible to recommend that the voice of Celie within the letters is in reality the voice of Alice Walker within the character of Celie; as such a character would be not likely to reveal themselves in the manner in which exists to us.

It is useful to keep in mind the portrayal of the social viewpoints of the characters in the two texts. They are both confronted with female marginalisation, however they are not both from the same social environment. The storyteller in The Yellow Wallpaper is suggested (by the description of her way of life and her style of language) to be a white middle-class female, her ideas and viewpoint being held secondary to those of white middle-class guys. Beyond this single repression there is really little evidence to suggest any other types of social marginalisation. The case of Celie in The Color Purple is far more complicated; there are a host of various reasons why she is inferior to those around her. Not only is she a black lady in nineteen thirties Georgia (reason enough to feel marginalised), but she was a physically and sexually mistreated motherless kid. Walker presents Celie’s social position by using casual colloquial language in Celie’s letters, through this we immediately discover in the first letter that she is poorly educated (through this we presume financially bad likewise) and from a black neighborhood in the American deep south (although just those that recognize with the particular geo-social dialect might be able to glean this from the text): ‘But I don’t never git utilized to it. And now I feels ill whenever I be the one to cook. My mom she fuss at me a take a look at me. She pleased, trigger he great to her now. But too ill to last long.’ By utilizing such stylised language in the story not just do we concern comprehend Celie’s marginalisation through basic understanding of the text, but through the really sound (phonology) and appearance of it (graphology).

Both texts use signs. Undoubtedly, the colour purple is an essential sign in The Color Purple, representing the charm and love of god in a less than best world. There are other signs within the text, like the making of patchwork quilts and Celie’s career in trouser making (‘people’s pants’), which represent the standard outlets of female imagination. In The Yellow Wallpaper we are challenged with a myriad of signs that might be read in numerous ways; the colour of the wallpaper, the pattern and the impressions that the storyteller sees within among others. The importance of importance within both texts depends on their capability to engage straight with the readers’ issue resolving abilities, which in turn leads to an advancement of thought concerning the topic of the significance. When the sign belongs to female marginalisation the reader is encouraged to see the issue in an abstract fashion (as colour, shape, sound etc), typically challenging the presumed viewpoints of the reader and hopefully (for the author) causing a reappraisal of their views.

As we can see, there are many different techniques within prose narrative that can be utilized in order to bring the issue of female marginalisation to the attention of the reader. The essential thing that we can see is that the very act of writing itself is greatly affected by concerns of gender; any text can be gone over with gender on the program, even if the subject of the text has little or nothing to do with such themes. However both The Color Purple and The Yellow Wallpaper are explicitly about these gender problems, and both authors have addressed their subjects utilizing ingenious and subversive narrative approaches, so that the reader ends up being mindful of the troubles women have had in revealing themselves and their female perspective when bound to a patriarchal society.


Goodman, Lizbeth. Literature and Gender (1996) The Open University

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The Yellow Wallpaper (1892) The Open University

Walker, Alice. The Color Purple (1983) Penguin Classics

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